Ultimate glory awaits one of these star-studded sides in Kiev
Liverpool v Real Madrid, Saturday 26 May, 7pm, BT Sport 2/HD (CH 532/528)
After 124 matches, a record 397 goals, and more action than is healthy for anyone, we’ve arrived at the UEFA Champions League Final.
It’s European club football’s biggest night of the year, and this season’s unmissable showdown from Kiev’s spectacular Olympic Stadium features two of the competition’s most celebrated sides – Liverpool and Real Madrid.
Five-time winners Liverpool overcame Roma in a remarkable semi-final, but do Jürgen Klopp’s men have what it takes to make it a truly unforgettable season? To do that, they’ll have to defeat Zinedine Zidane’s defending champions Real Madrid, who are going for a record thirteenth crown after seeing off Bavarian behemoths Bayern Munich.
There’s plenty to get your head around before these two footballing titans face off, so here are five things you need to know ahead of their must-watch clash…
1. Ronaldo can rewrite history
Shirt off, bronzed abs glistening under the floodlights, that superhero pose… Cristiano Ronaldo’s trademark celebration is one of football’s most familiar sights. Madrid’s maestro currently holds the record for most goals scored during a single UEFA Champions League campaign (17 in 2013/14) but a hat-trick in Kiev will see him overtake that momentous tally. It’s a big ask, but this is Ronaldo we’re talking about.
2. Liverpool are top of the pops
It’s official: no team has scored more goals in a single UEFA Champions League campaign than Liverpool this season. The rampant Reds have netted 46 times – that’s one more than Barcelona’s record of 45 set in 1999/2000. Plus, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino (above) and Sadio Mané are the most prolific attacking trio in the competition’s history. Smashing home 29 goals between them this season, that’s one more than the previous record held by Madrid’s own Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale in 2013/14. Real, you have been warned.
3. Madrid are going for the three-peat
After European football’s biggest club competition was rebranded in 1992, no side had successfully defended the title until Madrid did just that last season. But the Spaniards are greedy, and Zinedine Zidane’s team of superstars can go one better with victory over Liverpool. Three European crowns on the bounce? Now that really would be something.
4. It’s a tale of dodgy defences
Despite the fact that January signing Virgil van Dijk has given Liverpool some much-needed leadership at the back, the Reds’ defence is far from the impenetrable unit it needs to be. So it may come as some surprise to know that Madrid have shipped two more goals than their opponents in this season’s UEFA Champions League (15). But what does it all mean? It basically means we could have an absolute goal-fest in Kiev.
5. We’ve been here before
Whatever anyone else tells you, football is all about sweet revenge. Righting wrongs. Proving who’s really the boss in the short to medium term. Liverpool and Real Madrid previously met in the 1981 Final, which the Reds won 1-0 on a famous night for the club in Paris. Think that the Spaniards will have forgotten that? Not on your nelly.
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